Sometimes I get far away from my prayer, which means that I am not considering, or treating sacredly, my heart or my truth.
When I’m able to to re-ground myself and re-center my life around what my business is and what work is uniquely mine to do, I’m able to find clarity, relief and peace. One of the most reliable ways that I know to come back to and re-discover what’s true is to smoke my chanupa. Some may not know what this means and I can’t really explain it to you, but if you really desire to know more, I know you’ll find a way.
I’ve never found a better way to access my ability to speak from my heart than with a chanupa bowl pressed against my breast bone. I feel sensitive and hesitant to share such a private, personal experience for fear of judgement, being culturally appropriative or even just using the word prayer publicly. The hope and healing that I think is needed in the community and world right now overrides my hesitancy. I also know that my prayer comes from a lineage of prayers that prayed for white people to learn sacred ways and ceremonies to learn how to treat ourselves sacredly, as well as our relatives and our world. I am grateful to be connected to that prayer and am recommitted to open my ears and heart wider to understand more deeply how to stay in a good way with the sacred practices that have helped me find my prayer for myself in this lifetime.
This year I uncovered a new love, spiritual connection to and respect for ancestors in my birth family and in my adopted family that I never met, as well as those I only knew as a child. I spent so much time in my life feeling disconnected from everyone because I was an in between person. The journey of an adopted child is to find a way to fit in and feel at home despite the tension of both feeling consciously claimed and left behind or unwanted at the same time. The result of never fully feeling like I totally fit in has been a huge part of my journey and kept my focus on efforts to heal myself, my heart and my detachment from feeling fully connected to anyone, especially myself.
This year many stories have come to me of my ancestors, along with pictures and objects. The story of one particular object is that my mom’s parents had a tenant in a property they owned who was an incredible woodworker. He wasn’t always able to pay his rent so they accepted some beautiful boxes that he made as payment. We had at least three of these beautiful wooden boxes in our house when I was growing up, but I never paid much attention to them other than just to notice that they were there in my mom’s office and sewing room. Recently my mom gave me all three of these boxes and told the the story of where they came from. I instantly knew what I would do with one of the boxes and it was the answer to a question and unresolved issue that had been weighing on me for years. A chanupa box came into my life by way of my ancestors. It’s the perfect size, has the perfect features and is clearly made with such care and love.
Today I felt a strong need for level of clarity and truth that seemed beyond my reach. It’s been quite some time since I’ve had the relationship and connection that I once had with my chanupa. It has felt like an inner soft spot for awhile. A place I sometimes push into when I’m upset with myself, as proof that I’m an impostor or not worthy of sacred objects or sacred care. It’s all forgiven the moment I make a motion towards asking for help and becoming humble enough to receive it. The chanupa has zero feelings about any of my thoughts or behaviors, as it is an instrument of prayer and not one of self-flagellation.
I’ve had so many feelings associated with this chanupa over the years. Today I realized is exactly 6 years since I received it. I think the single biggest lesson that exists between me and this chanupa is that the faster I can get over myself, the happier I will be, but there is simply no getting around having my feelings.
Today was the day that I finally made space in my life to sit down, care for my chanupa in the kind, patient, gentle way that it likes to be cleaned, oiled and cared for, and finally to fill it, make a prayer and smoke it. It’s so simple, yet the resistance can be mighty when it comes to “bending the knee and asking for help,” as my friend and teacher, Jeff Wright, would say.
It was beautiful and peaceful. My prayer was simple and clear. A few tears came through and then there was relief because I realized that I can face anything that comes my way or doesn’t come my way and find a way to be happy about it as I’m moving in the direction of my prayers.
I can’t say that I understand prayer. Even after all these years, it feels a bit weird to say or type, but when I speak out loud the things in my heart that are true it feels so much better. The weight of the bowl on my heart reminds me of the love, care and honoring of what is sacred and calms my anxiety about using my voice and speaking my truth. Being witnessed, or even just witnessing myself, always makes me feel more grounded and confident. I can’t explain it, but the wiser part of me comes forth in a stronger way afterwards, as if she’s been given license to lead and is up to the task.
My prayer is to honor my life in the best way possible at this time. All the beings and elements that conspired to bring me into the world are worthy of my attention and gratitude and I can honor everyone and everything best by owning my value, taking courage to be myself and tending to the peaceful, loving places of my heart.
I always make the best prayer that I am capable of making and then step forward into it and keep moving forward aligning and re-aligning myself to my prayer as I go. It’s an endless series of moment to moment choices and thoughts to follow or not follow. It’s the same exact lesson that the medicine has been teaching me since forever. Discernment. This thought or action is my prayer. That thought or action is not my prayer. It takes so much time to consider each thought, but what else is there to do really? Knowing the prayers that come from the deepest place inside me and understanding how to live inside them is my work.
My actions are only ever going to be straying from the course and then getting back to it. It can only get easier and faster to see where I’ve misstepped and course correct. Sometimes I will likely go way off course in search of something else and that is okay too, because it’s all my life and I’m grateful all for it. All the lessons, all the teachings, all the feelings, all the people and all the events and chapters.
Today I feel a new alignment, a new softening and a new confidence that I am always, always, always doing my very best, there is no need or great benefit to looking back and analyzing each word, movement or sentiment expressed. There is only learning, understanding, doing it a little, or a lot better, next time and finding the way that is the most authentically me to handle each future moment.
Sometimes life looks so different than how I wish it to be, but I see the benefit of not praying for outcomes, even for myself, let alone other people, because we just can’t know what is ahead. The best prayer I have for today is joy and gratitude at the faces and hearts of my life, attention to my own face and my own heart as I walk through the world each day, and always praying and asking for help from everything that has a good or true wish or sentiment for me. I can barely comprehend all the levels of help that are available to me, and to all of us, if we can bare to ask. It’s not up to me to define or demand that it look or feel the way I desire, but I do know what the truth feels like and what love feels like and I follow those things whenever and wherever I find them.
Today I found a better way to be with my chanupa, a better way to be with myself and a better way to move forward. It feels good, safe and reliable, as well as peaceful, loving and kind.